Henry Wermuth 1923-2020

The Holocaust Educational Trust is deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Holocaust survivor Henry Wermuth.

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said:

Henry was a survivor of multiple concentration and death camps, who dedicated the latter part of his life to ensuring that young people understood the horrors of the Holocaust. Over decades, he spoke to thousands of young people until poor health prevented him from doing so.

His testimony was truly harrowing, but full of the bravery and courage that Henry exhibited in his personality - including the attempt to derail a train that Hitler was travelling on. His impact on this country will not be forgotten and we will do all we can to ensure his story and legacy continues to be shared across the country. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, and in particular to his daughter Ilana, who dedicated so much of her time accompanying him as he shared his testimony.”


Henry Wermuth was born in Frankfurt. In October 1938, Nazis arrived at his home and ordered his family to leave immediately as they were being deported to Poland. In late 1940, the family were sent to Bochnia and were forced into a ghetto. In August 1942, his mother and his younger sister were taken from the ghetto during a round-up. Henry and his father were forced to work in Klaj, a small town outside of the ghetto. From there, they were sent to Krakow-Plaszow Concentration Camp, a place Henry described as the worst of all the camps he was imprisoned in. In July 1944, the prisoners were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. As skilled workers, Henry and his father claimed to be carpenters and were transferred from Birkenau to Auschwitz-Monowitz to work at the IG Farben factory, where they remained until they were sent on a Death March in January 1945. On leaving Auschwitz-Monowitz, Henry and his father were initially transported by cattle wagons to Nordhausen, where they stayed for a short time before being transported to a camp in the Herz Mountains. From here they were sent to another camp, Helmstett. After days of marching Henry was then taken to Mauthausen Concentration Camp where he remained until he was liberated by American forces on 5th May 1945. His father died during the march, just 11 days before liberation.

Henry devoted over 20 years to educating about and raising awareness of the Holocaust.  Having published a book detailing his and his family's horrific experiences at the hands of the Nazis, he also gave up his time in his later years, travelling to schools to share his testimony and to raise awareness of the dangers of antisemitism, racism and prejudice. He also contributed to education documentaries and was a hugely respected member of his local community. In 1995, he was awarded the Johanna Kirchner Medal by the City of Frankfurt for his attempt to assassinate Hitler. His experiences are detailed in his book Breathe Deeply My Son.